What are some options for Summer family activities that I can squeeze into the very little of the season that’s remaining?
-Jody K., Denver, CO
Dear Jody K.,
The end (of summer) may be nigh, but there’s still just enough time to do any — or all! — of the following before you bid Summer a fond farewell on September 21.
Take a hike!
Now that the weather has cooled off a bit, it’s the perfect time to get out of the house! Instead of spending the weekend as a couch potato, watching TV or playing video games, save some electricity, get a little vitamin D, and give yourself and the planet a breath of fresh air: Find a trail near you, and take a hike. If you don’t have trails close enough to walk to, get the whole family together, or a group of friends, and car pool to a trail head nearby. If you want to be extra green, take public transportation to get there. Be sure to hike out what you hike in; don’t leave garbage or recyclables behind. If trail hiking’s not quite your thing, you can still get outside anyway and just take a walk — discover something new in the neighborhood, enjoy a sunset from a new vantage point, or meet a new neighbor.
Whether you’re hiking or simply taking a walk, you can go the extra green step, and pick up garbage and recyclables left by others while you hike!
Go apple picking or visit a farmer’s market!
Get back to nature by visiting a local orchard for first fruits of the apple harvest. No orchard nearby? No problem — visit a local farmer’s market instead. Purchasing local fruits and veggies (whether you pick them yourself or not) is a great way to cut down on the carbon footprint of your food, since the food doesn’t need to be flown from other countries or trucked across the U.S., and usually has little or no packaging — all adding up to a lot less pinch in your wallet, too.
When you pick the food yourself, you’re guaranteeing you get it at the height of ripeness, something that isn’t likely to happen in the store when your food’s been traveling for 5–7 days to get to you. Visiting an orchard or farmer’s market is a great way to show your kids where the food on the table comes from, and how much work goes into making that happen.
Try your hand at canning!
If you have a good size garden, the end of the summer may have you overrun with more fruits and veggies than you can possibly eat yourself. Instead of allowing those hard-earned fruits of your labors to go to waste, why not honor the Summer harvest and try your hand at canning? Canning allows you to have home grown (possibly even organic!) fruit and veggies all year round, without the large carbon footprint. Canning can be a great group activity to do with the kids, and home-grown means food preserved at the height of ripeness, no preservatives or additives, and no emissions spent in getting the canned food to you.
Want to try canning, but not a gardener? Head to a local orchard or farmer’s market, or consider joining a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Some CSAs offer canning workshops, so you can kill two tomatoes with one stone.